Some leaders get it and some don’t. There are those who have strong people skills and understand the value of giving recognition well. Then are the others who question the purpose of recognition and the expense associated with it.
How can you guarantee getting leadership support and their personal commitment to making recognition happen?
Think about the following ten steps before heading into a meeting with a leader or your senior leadership team.
- Stop thinking about getting their buy-in and start thinking about how you can help them get what they want. Many leaders will have on their minds, “What’s in it for them?” Think about what their organizational responsibilities and needs are. Reflect on their portfolio and what keeps them up at night. What goals do they want to achieve? Do you know what is important to them? Think of how they can best leverage recognition and rewards to achieve their desired results.
- Think about recognition from a big picture view and not just from your role perspective. Get connected with the organization’s business strategy and know it well. Can you find ways that employee recognition can help leaders support a specific strategic initiative? Show them how recognition and rewards can be a driver of employee engagement and the goals the organization is shooting for.
- Present your case for recognition passionately and in a positive manner. Overcome the nervous jitters and speak confidently about the recognition plan you want to present. Demonstrate your passion and knowledge of recognition practices and programs. Provide leaders with the latest correlational evidence data on the business impact and ROI of recognition done well. Prepare employee case studies to demonstrate what happens when there is a lack of recognition and also when it is present.
- Find out if this is the best time to consider recognition. Find out how far in advance of budget planning you should be planning for. Ask your director or the senior leader that the recognition portfolio reports up to, when is the best time of year to present your case. Be on the lookout for opportunities to tie recognition in with prevailing trends. See if there are other strategic initiatives, like improving employee engagement, for example, which you can piggyback on to.
- Align yourself with at least one senior leader. A great plan is to find a leader who is already on board with employee recognition and gets it. Ask them ahead of your presentation to the senior leadership team, if they would be willing to be an advocate for recognition. They may already be or are willing to be, your recognition champion. Seek out their knowledge of the personalities at play, specific business focus points for each leader, and areas of concern that each senior leader might have. Forearmed, you are in much better shape to prepare to address their pain points.
- Enlist the assistance of your peers and other managers. It is essential to involve others and not make recognition a one-person show. Strive to create a team approach to developing your recognition plan. Leaders will appreciate you having done your homework ahead of time. Collaborative teamwork will also show leaders how the implementation of your plans will be a lot easier to do.
- Be sensitive to the way the senior leadership team works. Find out from your senior leader champion, or from executive assistants to the leaders, what the standard process is for the group with making decisions. You will have to respect the flow of how decisions are made. It means preparing in ample time in advance to anticipate the unknown factors. Always give leaders the information they need in their preferred manner no matter how finicky you think they are.
- Come to the leaders with solid solutions and plans. It is easy to find the problems that occur with employee recognition in most organizations. Don’t come to them laying blame or pointing fingers – especially not at the leaders. Instead, come prepared with a solid, well thought out plan to present to them. Even if that plan requires you to investigate further, that is a good solution.
- Ask them the questions that will help you with the missing pieces. You cannot be expected to know all the answers nor the changing direction the leadership team may be heading in. Be ready with a handful of well thought out questions to ask them to fill in the blanks. Seek suggestions from them for the next steps to take and ask them what their advice would be if they were in your shoes.
- Reflect and listen carefully to their feedback. While you might not get your plan approved right away be very open to feedback. Listen to every piece of information they give you for the nuggets you can use next time. Be alert to the expressed pain points, doubts raised, and challenges identified. Request if they are open to a return presentation if you believe you can address all of their concerns, questions, and feedback.
Taking all of these steps into consideration, and acting on them, will position you as a leader and expert worth hearing from. In so doing, you will build trust and credibility with your leaders.
Personal commitment from leaders always comes to those that leaders know, like, and trust.
Recognition Reflection: What is the most important factor in gaining the personal commitment for recognition from a senior leader?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.
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